Paris Bistro Cookery by Alexander Watt
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1958. Hardcover. 195 pages ; 20 cm. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Here is a title to look at twice—for it has a double meaning. This is at once a guidebook and a cookbook.
It is a collection of moments savored in those wonderful but often hard-to-find Paris islands where magnificent food is served—and eaten. It is, as well, a collection of the secrets of the chefs who make those islands as singular as they are.
Alexander Watt, the food and wine expert of the London Daily Telegraph, knows Paris inside the kitchen and out. In Paris Bistro Cookery he has cut through to the root of the French cuisine. His book is not one for those with expensive tastes; it is a book for everyone who believes in food and who prefers good value to grand style.
Covering a wide cross-section of Paris, Mr. Watt takes the reader on a tour of fifty small, inexpensive bistros that he personally has discovered, tested, and approved (indicated on end-paper maps whereby readers can easily pinpoint the restaurants of their choice) . He brings to life the ambiance of each bistro he has selected, introducing us to the patron, recapturing the atmosphere, the particular nature of the cooking, the regional dishes for which restaurant maybe famous. He not only describes the spécialités in mouth-watering detail, but also offers a representative menu for the tourist to sample, suggesting the right accompanying wine, cheese, and liqueur—or digestif, as the French would say—to settle a superlative meal. Then he goes on to outline the making of several of the dishes for which each bistro is famous, translating the chef's masterpieces into one hundred well-detailed, easy-to-follow recipes that can be tried in the American kitchen.
In addition, the reader will find valuable supplementary culinary hints, the translation of basic French recipe terms, an informative introduction on bistro-lore, a cheese and wine chart, and a comparative vintage table.
Paris Bistro Cookery is a must for anyone about to embark for the gourmet capital of the world, a delight for the armchair traveler who wishes to sample vicariously Paris fare, and a challenge for the cook who wants to re-create in her (or his) own kitchen dishes that are truly representative of the best in Paris bistros. Alors, bon voyage, et bon appétit!
A Note about the Author
Alexander Watt is a Scotsman who has spent twenty-five years of his life in Paris. As food and wine expert for the London Daily Telegraph and a contributor to Vogue and other international magazines, he is an exacting gourmet and an acknowledged connoisseur of food and wine. In 1954 he published with James Beard his first book, entitled Paris Cuisine. According to Art Buchwald, Alexander Watt has made a life study of bistros and has performed an invaluable service in making his discoveries and the carefully guarded secrets of bistro chefs available to the public.
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